• Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

Non-Review Review: Spider-Man – Far From Home

Spider-Man: Far From Home cannot help but exist in the shadow of Avengers: Endgame.

Indeed, one of the problems marketing Far From Home was the manner in which the entire emotional premise of the film served as a spoiler for Endgame, which meant that the film had to wait quite late in the game to release its second trailer. This sets up an interesting tension with Far From Home, which finds itself in the the seemingly contradictory position of being both the last movie in the current “phase” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and also a film actually being produced by a company other than Marvel Studios.

Masking his feelings.

This weird push-and-pull runs through Far From Home, which seems caught between existing as a coda and epilogue to Endgame and working as a Spider-Man movie in its own right. To a certain extent, this was always going to be a tension within Far From Home, even before Endgame set its sights on becoming the biggest movie of all time. Endgame was always going to exert a gravity on Far From Home, given its plot mechanics and its character decisions. Writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, along with director Jon Watts, were always going to be reacting to narrative and character choices that they never made.

As such, the most interesting thing that Far From Home can do is to literalise that tension.

Night Monkey Moves.

Continue reading

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D – Pilot (Review)

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a very competent production. It looks lavish. It connects the dots. It reminds the audience that it’s connected to a string of blockbuster movies without being pushy about it. It introduces a diverse ensemble. It sets up long-running mysteries and story arcs. It’s a tight and focused, and controlled piece of television.

Perhaps too controlled. There’s something oddly restrained and oddly refined about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., feeling a little smoother and a little more polished than a pilot really should. There’s not a hair out of place, but only because everything has been so meticulously styled. This isn’t a bad thing – the pilot plays remarkably well – but it just feels a bit limp, a bit lifeless.

It’s as if we’ve tuned into a Life Model Decoy of a Joss Whedon show.

Phil us in...

Phil us in…

Continue reading

Ultimate Comics: Hawkeye (Review)

To celebrate the release of Thor: The Dark World towards the end of next month, we’ll be looking at some Thor and Avenger-related comics throughout September. Check back weekly for the latest reviews and retrospectives.

Ultimate Comics: Hawkeye is pretty much a companion piece to Jonathan Hickman’s Ultimate Comics: Ultimates run. Unlike other miniseries like Ultimate Comics: Thor or Ultimate Comics: Captain America, Hawkeye isn’t designed to be read on its own. It is clearly intended as a story to be read in parallel with Hickman’s on-going Ultimates narrative, unfolding at the same time alongside that particular story. As such, it’s a weird miniseries to read on its own terms, doing a rather excellent job of fleshing out the global scale of Hickman’s Ultimates work, but never really working on its own terms.

Broken arrow...

Broken arrow…

Continue reading

Iron Man by David Michelinie & Bob Layton (& John Romita Jr.) Omnibus, Vol 1 (Review/Retrospective)

To get ready for Iron Man 3, we’ll be taking a look at some Iron Man and Avengers stories, both modern and classic. We hope to do two or three a week throughout the month, so check back regularly for the latest update.

It’s hard to believe, given the high profile the character has attained since Robert Downey Jr. first played Tony Stark in Iron Man back in 2008, but Iron Man used to be one of Marvel’s second-tier characters. Of course, like any other comic book character, Iron Man has had his ups and downs. There have been solid runs by great creative teams, and disappointing stories told by writers and artists unsuited to the character. However, Iron Man never really had one of those iconic comic book runs of the seventies and eighties, the kind of high-profile character-defining run like Walt Simonson’s tenure on Thor or Frank Miller’s work on Daredevil or Chris Clarement’s extended run on the X-Men franchise.

Perhaps the closest to such a run from the Bronze Age is the work by David Michelinie and Bob Layton, who actually enjoyed two extended runs writing for the character at the end of the seventies and into the eighties. This gigantic omnibus collection includes the first of those two runs, which were bisected (mostly) by Denny O’Neil’s extended time on the title. While it’s not as cohesive and solid a run as any of the aforementioned examples, it still demonstrates a solid understanding of Iron Man, and features two of the character’s most iconic stories.

You have to whip it...

You have to whip it…

Continue reading

12 Movie Moments of 2012: “You’d Love My Boyfriend, He’s a Total Chick Flick Nut” (ParaNorman)

As well as counting down the top twelve films, I’m also going to count down my top twelve movie related “moments” of 2012. The term “moment” is elastic, so expect some crazy nonsense here. And, as usual, I accept that my taste is completely absurd, so I fully expect you to disagree. With that in mind, this is #7

I’m normally hesitant to involve politics in this blog. It is, after all, a blog about popular culture. Indeed, I am the first to complain about obnoxious celebrities standing on their soapbox espousing their political beliefs. It’s not that I disagree with them, or that they aren’t entitled to their opinion, I’m just uncomfortable with the idea that being famous makes you an expert to speak on a particular cause or issue. Still, in the spirit of Christmas, allow me one small digression.

That said, I couldn’t help but smile at the climax to ParaNorman, a solidly entertaining family adventure that took its own message to heart. Embracing the idea that there’s nothing scary about something just because it’s different than you, it earned the wrath of the extreme right because it dared to suggest that one of its character might be in a loving and stable homosexual relationship. It’s great to see a family film actual acknowledge that sort of diversity, particularly in a way that doesn’t sensationalise the matter in hand. It’s a damn funny one-liner to boot, and the fact that it’s willing to call the audience on their assumptions is particularly endearing.

paranorman7

Continue reading

12 Movie Moments of 2012: Throwing the Toys Together (The Avengers)

As well as counting down the top twelve films, I’m also going to count down my top twelve movie related “moments” of 2012. The term “moment” is elastic, so expect some crazy nonsense here. And, as usual, I accept that my taste is completely absurd, so I fully expect you to disagree. With that in mind, this is #9

The Avengers had its share of problems – it was weirdly paced; the Hulk’s character arc seemed to come a bit out of left field; Loki had no real sense of motivation; the film effectively undermined the wonderful ending to Thor; it didn’t really deal with any of the questions raised by Nick Fury’s actions; and Disney insisted that we call it Marvel’s Avengers Assemble in this part of the world, in case my grandmother might show up and wonder where “the nice chap with the umbrella” had gone. However, it also had its strengths, and these strengths were rooted in the fact that director Joss Whedon was keen not overly intellectualise the premise or the characters, and accepted the glee of knocking all those iconic toys together.

avengers15

Continue reading

Meme of the Moment: Honest Trailer for The Avengers

Readers will know that I’m a big fan of geeky stuff. So I thought I’d pass this on. It’s Screen Junkies’ surprisingly reflective commentary on The Avengers, which opened up 2012’s blockbuster season with a bang. While I enjoyed it, I wasn’t as much of a fan of it as most, and a lot of the reasons are covered in the trailer. (In particular, the fact it completely invalidates the ending to Thor, the fact that Loki has no motivation for what he’s doing, and the contrivance of his plan to bring together the only people who could beat him.) It doesn’t quite cover the somewhat thematic and structural problems raised by Nick Fury, which the film alludes to, but never addresses  – but it’s all in good fun. And well worth a look.

Although, to be honest, gentle tongue-in-cheek ribbing aside, I think I’m still in the minority in not quite loving The Avengers as much as everybody else. Again, not hating or disliking, but just not liking as much.